When the name of a character from a show is slightly tweaked when the show is dubbed or otherwise translated into a foreign language because the original name would sound obscene
Subtrope of Dub Name Change
and illegitimate sister trope to Spell My Name with an S
. See also Cross Cultural Kerfluffle
and Bite The Wax Tadpole
- In the Brazilian dub and manga translation of Hunter × Hunter, the character Kurapika was renamed Kurapaika, since "Cu-ra-pica" can be translated to something like "Ass-penis". Or "Heals penis".
- And InuYasha's Kagome, whose name was changed to Agome, because "Kagome" sounds like "cago-me", or "I crap on myself". Also, both Naraku and Miroku were changed to Narak and Mirok, to eliminate the "ku" (which is similar to the Brazilian word meaning "ass"). Oddly, the manga kept these changes in Naraku and Miroku's name, but reverted Kagome's name back to the original.
- Kagome's name was changed to "Aome" (meaning blue eyes) in the Latin American Spanish as well for the same reason mentioned above, and also for sounding like "cágame" or "cagame", both meaning "shit on me". The European Spanish dub, however, kept her original name.
- And while the names could refer to those same things in Italian as well, none of them was changed. It does lead to a few jokes in the fandom, but it's no big deal.
- In a similar case, the Latin American dub of Inazuma Eleven changes the name of the main hero, Mamoru Endo, with "Satoru Endo", since "Mamoru" sounds a lot like the Spanish word "mamar" that can be translated as "cocksucker". At least, unlike Inu-Yasha, they changed his name with a valid Japanese name.
- Due to this, the Latin American Spanish dub of Saber Marionette J changes the last name of the main character Otaru Mamiya with "Otaru Namiya".
- Sailor Moon
- The European Spanish dub, which was known for changing almost every name for totally different Spanish names, changed "Mamoru Chiba" to "Armando Chiba".
- The latin american dub had Chibi-Usa's friend Momoko shortened to Momo, to avoid the near-homophone moco/mocosa meaning snot/snotty or brat)
- In the North American DiC dub, Kunzite was renamed Malachite. Note that the Z in his name is pronounced "ts" (since the mineral kunzite was named after Kunz, a surname of German origin).
- Black Lady was likely changed to Wicked Lady to avoid Unfortunate Implications.
- In the Mixx/Tokyopop manga translation of Sailor Stars, Sailor Star Maker's attack "Star Gentle Uterus" was renamed to "Star Gentle Creator".
- The European Spanish dub of Kiki's Delivery Service had Kiki renamed Nikki, since Kiki is a slang word in Spanish associated with sex.
- Similarly, the Filipino dub changed her name since "Kiki" is slang for "pussy."
- The reason Laputa is known as Castle in the Sky in the US is because "la puta" is Spanish for "the whore" and when they have to say the name of the titular city they pronounce it "LAP-uta" with the emphasis on the first syllable to differentiate it from the Spanish term. The name is taken from a place in Gullivers Travels (see Literature below), and Jonathan Swift probably knew what it meant. He was a very bitter person.
- The latin american dub of Magic Knight Rayearth changes Mokona to Nikona, as it sounds very similar to "moco" (Snot) or "mocosa" (Lit. Snotty, also means brat)
- In the Portuguese dub of "Dragon Ball" Chi-Chi was changed to Quica (pronounced "kika", and short for "Francisca") since the original name (although only by altering the pronunciation from "Chi-Chi" to "Shi-Shi") means pee.
- Roy Focker from Macross became Roy Fokker in Robotech since his original surname was one letter away from "fucker".
- The Italian dubbing of Tenchi Muyo! changed the name of a Big Bad from Kagato to Kayato, because the former looks and sounds like the Italian word cagato, "shat" (e.g. "Io ho cagato" = "I have shat").
- Dragon Ball
- The titular Dragon Balls are called the "Esferas del Dragón" (the Dragon's Spheres) in Latin America, since "bolas" (the more literal translation of "balls") is slang for testicles. Oddly, the European Spanish translates it right as "Bolas de Dragón".
- The Latin American dub changed Chi Chi's name to Milk, as the former is derogatory slang for women's breasts in Spanish. Although Chichi does actually mean "milk" in Japanese too, and is also a Japanese "baby-talk" word for "breast", it's not as derogatory there.
- The Spanish dub kept Chi Chi's name unchanged, despite "chichi" there referring to female genitals. However, Mr. Popo's name was changed to "Momo", since "popo" means "poop" and having a black character with such a name would lead to unfortunate implications. The manga kept his original name.
- Then there's Mr. Satan, who is called Hercule in the French and North American dubs, although for different reasons. Unlike the North American dub, the French dub didn't have any problems with including Judeo-Christian references in their version, they only changed it to avoid confusion with Satan Petit-Cur ("Satan's Little Heart", Piccolo's name in the French dub).
- Funny enough, the Filipino dub changed his name to the more funny-sounding "Mr. Pogi" (Mr. Handsome, despite the fact he isn't).
- The Italian dub changes Goku's Saiyan name from Kakaroth to Kaaroth, since it sounds like "cacca", italian for "poop". But again, the Spanish dub leaves it untouched.
- In the Brazilian translation of the shojo manga Meru Puri: Marchen Prince, the show within a show "Pika Rangers" was changed to "Poke Rangers". That's because "Pika" is similar to "pica", a really dirty (if not a bit outdated) slang for "penis". And the new name keeps the reference, anyway.
- An odd case in Digimon Adventure 02: Dagomon, a Digimon named after the Lovecraftian version of Dagon may have had his name changed in the dub because it was shortened to Dago-mon, "dago" being a racist term. Since the dubbers didn't get the Cthulhu mythos reference, his changed name, Dragomon, is only a reference to a certain Russian boxer.
- It is theorized that Tai and Kari's surname, "Yagami", was changed to "Kamiya" in the dub because the original name reads "I'm a gay" backwards. Which would really be reading too deeply into things.
- In reality, it was a simple translation error - g and k sound the same in Japanese, and "Kamiya" is an alternate reading of the characters used for "Yagami". note
- In the Arabic version of Detective Conan, Eri Kisaki got her name changed to Mary, as her original name bears some similarity with "Iri", "my ass" in some dialects.
- This was why Viz Media changed Gash's name to Zatch in Zatch Bell!: the original name is a slang term for "vagina". Still, makes you wonder why "Gash" seems to be one of Viz's favorite onomatopeias...
- The name could also have been changed since "gash" could be considered to be too "violent" of a term.
- The Brazilian dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! never settled for a translation of "Millenium Rod"; at first it was literally translated, but it was clear that the word "Rod" ("vara") was too easy to innuendo-ize. Thus it was changed to "varinha" (Wand) sometimes, "cetro" (Scepter) other times. Definetly not "rod", though.
- Italian dub of the various Bakugan series changed Vestroia to Vestronia because "troia" is Italian for "whore".
- In the Czech version of Pokémon, Pichu was first censored out entirely. Later the pronunciation was changed to Pixu or Pic-chu. Because the original name is the accusative form of the 'C' word equivalent.
- One minor Shinigami in Death Note is given the name "Gook", written out in clear English in the How To Read 13 volume. As that name is also a slur used for Vietnamese, Viz's translation swaps it out for "Gukku".
- The Italian dub of Gatchaman II refers to the previous series' villain as "Ratse", rather than Berg Katse note . This is due to the translators believing that "Katse" sounded too similar to "cazzo" (literally "penis", but also used as general Italian profanity).
- In the German dub of Attack No. 1, main protagonist Kozue Ayuhara was renamed Mila Ayuhara. The reason is obvious, as her original first name sounded very much like "Kotze", which is a vulgar German term for vomit.
- Madame Adolphine from Benoit Brisefer became Albertine in Germany, since the name reminded too much of a certain Adolf. If you wonder why Peyo himself hadn't a problem with the name - the album was written in 1963, and Madame Adolphine would've been born long before Hitler came to power.
- In old Spanish translations of The Lone Ranger, Tonto is called Toro ("Bull") because "tonto" in Spanish means dumb.
- Some characters in the Star Wars prequel trilogy had to have their names adapted in Brazil:
- Capt. Panaka (which is almost panaca, "moron") became "Panacé". Given the similarity and his tendency to second guess the Jedi about how to best protect Pademe, its possible this was an intentional Bilingual Bonus rather than an oversight.
- Count Dooku became "Dookan" to avoid jokes (do cu = "from the ass"). Dooku can also sound like "Dou o cu", "I can be ass-fucked". Weird.
- Sifo-Dyas was renamed Zaifo Vias (a phonetic transcription), since the original name sounded so much like "if you would fuck" (se fodias).
- The Italian version of The Incredibles changed Frozone's name to Siberius (a pun on Siberia and maybe Sibelius), because "Frozone" is similar to the insulting term "frocione" ("big faggot").
- In the Brazilian dub of The Lion King, the term "Hakuna Matata" was changed to "Hatuna Matata", again, to eliminate the "ku" (read the entries for InuYasha and Hunter × Hunter, above). Seeing as it is a real Swahili phrase, Disney's Brazilian branch always ping-ponged between reversing to the unedited sentence (the third movie used it right in the title) and using the censored one (the TV spin-off).
- Also Disney in Brazil, Brave had the protagonist change the accentuation of her name from Mérida (Meh-readah) to Merída (Meh-ree-da), presumably to avert something similar to "merda", shit.
- Inversion: Troy's title was left untranslated in Italy because the translation "Troia" is more commonly used as slang for "whore".
- In Spanish translation of Gullivers Travels, the city of Laputa is renamed to Lupata or Lapuntu since "la puta" is slang for "the whore" in Spanish. Gulliver claimed to be fluent in Spanish, but apparently he never learned slang because he missed the connection. Instead he drew connections to words in the native language meaning "high governor" (lap untuh) or "crepuscular wing" (lap outed).
- According to The Other Wiki: "It is likely, given Swift's brand of satire, that he was aware of the Spanish meaning."
- Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Lĺngstrump was Pippi Longstocking in English-speaking markets, but she had to change name to Fifi Brindacier in French or Peppi Dlinnyichulok in Russian because "Pippi" sounds like words for urine in those languages. But oddly enough, in German "Pipi" means the same, but Pippi is still called Pippi.
- German phonetics (as a general rule) state that a vowel followed by two (or more) consonants (Pippi) has a short sound (in this case "ɪ"), while a vowel followed by one consonant has a long sound ("iː"). So it isn't odd, as the two words should sound different in German.
- Drizzt Do'Urden became Dzirt in the Russian translation, as his English name reminds of the word "dristat'", associated with diarrhea.
- The fourth book of The Sword of Truth series has a character named Manda Perlin. In Russian, she became Mendy, due to the obscene meaning of the original word in Russian.
- In the Hungarian translation of The Lord of the Rings, Treebeard's name is translated properly, but he is re-named "Elmbeard", because fa, the Hungarian word for "tree", is very close to fasz, a rather rude slang term for a certain male body part, and the word for "beard" begins with an sz, the same letter fasz ends with. Thus, the two words together would have added up roughly to "Dickbeard".
- In the Spanish translation of A Song of Ice and Fire (and the accompanying TV adaptation), Gilly's name is changed to Elí because Gilly looks too close to "gili", the short version of asshole.
- In German productions of the opera Madame Butterfly, the surname of Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton is altered to "Linkerton" (the alternate Trope Namer) to avoid suggesting the word "pinkeln" (to pee). Also, the reason why the same character is referred to as F. B. Pinkerton is apparently that Puccini saw the original play in London, where to avoid the British slang abbreviation of "bloody fool" the character was renamed Francis Blummy Pinkerton.
- The name given to the emanations of the Sealed Evil in a Can of the Phantasy Star series has been variously translated as "Dark Force" and "Dark Falz" because the original name is "Dark Phallus".
- The Final Fantasy V English translation changes Butz's name to Bartz, because Butz sounds like, well, Butts.
- Many a high school teacher of Japanese will tell you that in the classroom there will be no intentional emphasizing of the -shit- romaji spelling combinations occasionally found in Japanese words and names. But teenagers are immature, and will do it anyway just for lulz. So naturally, Shitan from Xenogears was renamed Citan, the Pokémon Makunoshita became Makuhita and Ishito from Chrono Cross was renamed Norris.
- Speaking of Pokemon, the electric flying squirrel Pokemon in Generation V was changed from Emonga to Emolga to avoid relation with a British swear word.
- In F-Zero Maximum Velocity there is a track with a Gullivers Travels-inspired name Laputan Colony (with some Laputa-like floating islands in the scenery backdrop). For the same reason as Castle in the Sky, Laputan Colony was renamed in English to Empyrean Colony. In the same game, the car Dirty Joker was renamed Sly Joker, and the car Crazy Horse was renamed Wind Walker (probably to avoid the Unfortunate Implications of perceived Native American stereotyping).
- The reason Pac-Man has this name today is to avert this, because when importing the original arcade game to the USA, Midway (who originally released the game) noticed that the original name, Puckman, could bring Unfortunate Implications, given that any kid could vandalize the cabinet by turning the P into an F.
- Not dissimilarly from the Macross/Robotech example above, Fokker from Power Stone became Falcon in the Western localized versions due to the word's British homophone, "fucker".
- In the PSP version of Final Fantasy Tactics, Delita's sister was renamed from Teta to Tietra. Teta is slang for "tits" in Spanish and Portuguese. This one was probably unintentional, though.
- In the Japanese version of Ray Crisis, the robot with the flaming BFS was named Sem-Slut; for obvious reasons this was changed to Sem-Strut in the US version.
- In the Ys series, Dark Fact is often transliterated as "Dalk Fukt" in Japan.
- The last world in Myst was originally called Dunny, but then the creators learned dunny is Australian slang for toilet. They changed it to D'ni. In spite of this they kept the pronunciation the same for most of the series, with only a few characters later on pronouncing it differently.
- EarthBound strangely averts this with the character Poo. In fact, Pu or Puu would arguably be a less unfortunate name and would probably be a more accurate representation of the original Japanese. This was in the middle of the gross-humor fad in the 1990s; see also the rest of the unfortunate marketing campaign ("This Game Stinks").
- "Koopa Troopa" from the Super Mario Bros. series is quite an Unfortunate Name in Polish because it sounds like "kupa trupa" ("dead man's poop"). However, due to lack of official Nintendo support, there is absolutely no translation so the trope's averted.
- In the SNES and Sega CD ports of Final Fight, Damnd's and Sodom's names were changed to "Thrasher" and "Katana" respectively, since the name "Damnd" is just "damned" with one letter removed (which is sometimes considered a profane word), while the name "Sodom" (aside for being the name of a biblical city) is also the basis of the word "sodomy".
- The SNES version of Street Fighter Alpha 2 used "Katana" for consistency, even though all the other console versions didn't have any problem using "Sodom." When Final Fight was ported to the GBA, Damnd and Sodom were allowed to use their original names again.
- In the SNES port of The Combatribes, the name of the penultimate boss was changed from Swastika to M. Blaster.
- Vodka Drunkenski from the Super Punch-Out arcade game became Soda Popinski in the NES version of Punch-Out!!.
- Though Sol-Feace kept its original title in all regions as a Sega CD launch title, the cut-down Sega Genesis/Mega-Drive cartridge release was retitled Sol-Deace, probably due to "Feace" sounding similar to "feces."
- Arguably, when Fire Emblem Awakening came out, the Swanchika was renamed into Helswath probably to avoid connection with the infamous swastika.
- In the non-English European translations, Lon'qu was renamed to Lon'zu - phonetically, Lon'qu sounds the same in French as "long cul" (which means, roughly, "long ass").
- The French version of The Legend of Zelda series changes "Deku" into "Mojo", as the former would be pronounced almost identically to "de cul", or "from the ass", in French. Having a character by the name of the "Great Ass Tree" would be less than optimal. Oddly enough, this was inverted in the original translation of Ocarina of Time, where the Bomb Flowers became "chous-péteur", literally "farting cabbages".
- The Japanese katakana of Arceus from the Pokémon series supports a soft C: "Are-say-us". This pronunciation was used for a time in English localizations before abruptly changing to a hard C ("Are-key-us") starting with the dub of Arceus and the Jewel of Life - this was later confirmed to be TPCi averting the possibility of immature jokes being made by British English speakers.
- Aku from Samurai Jack became Apu (or Abu, depending on the season) in the Brazilian dub because it would sound like "Ah Ass" in Portuguese.
- Though it wasn't a translation, the character "Snarl" in Transformers Animated was originally meant to be named "Slag" in homage to a character from Transformers Generation 1 (hence the triceratops alternate-mode; G1 Snarl was a stegosaurus). The name was changed because Hasbro discovered that "Slag" is a word for "slut" in Britain.
- It also developed into Cybertronian profanity roughly analagous to "shit" around the time of Beast Wars, so it was an in-universe Clean Dub Name as well. Someone actually suggested to him while he was picking a name, in show, that he go by Slag. He responded rather... angrily.
- The Darkwing Duck villain Negaduck is named Fiesoduck in the German dub. (fies = mean) It is very likely that his name was changed because Nega- sounds a lot like Neger, the German word for Negro.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender 's "Suki" means "bitches" in Russian. So in Russian dub she was called Zuki (in season 1 and 3) and Suyuki (in season 2) instead.
- "Suki" in general is often rendered as "Ski" in Russian. Same with "Aska" (e.g. Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion). However, dropping the weak "u" sound is not neccesarily done for such purposes: it's enough to move the accent off it to remove the "bitch" sound - but an accentless "u" is a very weak sound and is likely to be skipped even when it doesn't cause unneccessary associations.
- In the Italian dub of Littlest Pet Shop, Minka's name is changed to Mirka because it sounds too similar to "Minchia", a slang form of "penis".
- The VIC-20 computer was distributed in Germany as the VC-20 so its name wouldn't be pronounced like the German F-word.
- According to some reports, Arabic news services had to struggle with how to get around the fact that 1996 Republican US presidential candidate Bob Dole's surname was Arabic for "penis".
- The Mitsubishi Pajero had to be renamed when sold overseas because "pajero" is Spanish for "wanker".
- Vladimir Putin's surname is spelled "Poutine" in French to reduce its similarity to Putain, the French word for "whore".
- Which is still kind of unfortunate, because it makes him "Vladimir Gravy Fries" (though the dish is actually from the French-speaking part of Canada, not France proper).
- Averted in Spanish, despise his last name is the diminutive form for "fag", and a endless source of comedy in that language.
- The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow was originally intended to be called the Silver Mist. The name was rapidly changed after it was realised that 'mist' is German for 'manure': especially as the car was being launched at a German motor show.